>Winter, Olympics, and Psalm 33

>Coming out of this morning’s votive silence, I could blog about a great overnight “winter getaway” with my husband, the beauty and dedication of Olympic sports, singing a new song, or God’s corporate justice and mercy.

This winter has been long for everyone, but perhaps especially for someone who makes his living delivering mail on miles of snow-drifted and ice-covered roads. And perhaps for someone who works from her home and has had many weeks when her only outing was to church on Sunday. And particularly for someone who hasn’t had a vacation for a couple of years. We just wanted to go somewhere else and pretend for one brief evening that it wasn’t winter.

The solution was a quick trip to a hotel with an enclosed water park: soaking in a hot tub beside a small “waterfall” and bright plastic flowers, viewing painted murals of bright blue sky and puffy white clouds, hearing children shriek and watching them dance under cascades of falling water, and even flying down a cold, dark, wet tube (only once for me, but several times for Dave). It was a rejuvenating change of scenery from these four walls for one night.

We spent some time watching the amazing synchronization of Olympic pair skating and the magnificent control of mogul skiing. Seeing these physical feats fills my mind with praise for our Creator God who made man a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor.

The obvious dedication of the athletes makes me wonder about priorities. What would the world look like if every Christian was so dedicated to the faith? Does Olympic dedication border on idolatry? And I love hearing stories of self-made millionaires, but a man who made a furtune from computer spam? That’s just not right! In spite of these disquieting thoughts, I enjoy seeing what people, created by God in his image, are capable of doing with the gifts he has given them.

This morning I read Psalm 33’s directives to “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! (1)” and to “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts” (3).

Whatever skill God gives us, whether that’s skating or skiing or singing or playing a stringed instrument or writing, we are to do it with all that is in us. We are to do it “skillfully” and forcefully (there’s no other way to interpret “loud shouts”).

If that’s the attitude of the Olympic medal hopefuls, who am I to criticize? God knows their hearts.

He knows the hearts of those who have switched national loyalties in order to pursue their Olympic dreams. National fervor is a big part of the Olympics. Do the newly adopted countries admire these transplanted sports heros as much as they admire someone born and raised in their land?

What would the world look like if nations had as much zeal for the Christian faith as they do for their Olympic teams? So many nations have so much passion for anything but the faith!

Psalm 33 says:

The Lord brings the counsel of
the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God
is the Lord,
the people whom he has
chosen as his heritage! (10-12)

Is there any nation that can say its God is the Lord? Nations may plot the overthrow of the Christian faith and the oppression of believers, but God frustrates those counsels in his eternal plan. His counsel is the only one that endures. Notice that his plans are “of his heart” and “to all generations.” God loves his people. He will defend them and provide for them throughout the generations of believing families. God’s covenant people are his nation and his heritage!

Psalm 33 concludes:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on
those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord:
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord,
be upon us,
even as we hope in you (18-22).

God sees each person who believes in him and hopes in his steadfast love. He delivers his people from death and keeps them alive in famine.

It’s interesting that after the Psalmist speaks of God frustrating the plans of the nations and blessing the nation who fears him, he then speaks of a corporate (“our”) soul that waits for the Lord and a corporate heart that is glad in him. That unified soul and heart is possible when “we” corporately trust in his holy name.

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, as we hope in you!


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